Saturday, 1 September 2007

Al's Trip to Mancunia

Today I took a break from virtual exploration to go in to Manchester with Mrs K to see a movie, The Bourne Ultimatum, followed by a bite to eat. We both thoroughly enjoyed the movie, which we saw at the Printworks - which has its virtual equivalent in Second Life here. Maybe this planted a seed in my mind, because on returning home and logging in to Second Life, I quickly found another Manchester sim, Mancunia.

The sim belongs to BJL, a Manchester-based advertising company. It is a pretty faithful simulation of the area of Manchester where their offices are located. As they explain it in their notecard: "BJL is an independent advertising agency based in Manchester, England. We like working in Manchester so much we created an Island and called it Mancunia, so you can explore and see a slice of the City from the comfort of your computer."

Their offices are actually in a fine old building, Sunlight House, on Quay Street, which is about half a mile from the Printworks mentioned earlier. I know this area of the city fairly well, indeed Mrs K used to work in the ugly office block recreated on this sim, and pictured below. Unlike the real world location, BJL have chosen to put their offices on the roof of the building, open to the skies. Given the city's unenviable reputation for inclement weather, this is something you would never contemplate in real life!

As well as their own offices, they have recreated an entire chunk of the city - all the buildings shown below actually exist, though I would have been happy to see a bit more traffic, as the junction of Deansgate and Quay Street is often gridlocked! FYI: Mrs K used to work on the second floor of the office block in the middle picture - but that was many, many years ago!

It is hard to know what they plan to do with the sim. As a simulation of this area of Manchester it is good fun, and nicely rendered - but...

It lacks any engagement with the visitor. There seems little scope for meeting places or events, at least in its current construction, and is arguably a flamboyant waste of a sim, if the only practical areas are the roof-top office and another office, buried deep in Sunlight House, accessible by teleport.

On the plus side, at least it is another British company in Second Life - a rarity in itself. There seems to be a marked reluctance by British companies to come in to Second Life, in sharp contrast to the large numbers of German, French and (especially) Dutch companies who have planted their corporate flags in SL over the last year or so.

Oh... a bit more info on Sunlight House, courtesy of another notecard: "Russian-born Joe Sunlight was the Manchester-based pioneering architect and at one time one of the city's wealthiest citizens. Born into a Jewish family on the 2nd January 1890, his family fled from Russia and settled in Manchester around 1902. Joe was to become a prolific architect, having designed 1000 houses in the Prestwich district alone. His greatest landmark is the 14 storey Sunlight House, Manchester's first high rise office block as well as its tallest building when it was erected in the depressed 1930s. It was also very forward looking with its high speed lifts and its unique vacuum cleaning system which was designed to keep its 3000 windows dust-free. Sunlight planned an even taller building on the adjacent plot in Gartside Street, next to the Opera House, some 40 storeys high, inspired by a visit he had made to Chicago, but the local planning authority's short sightedness caused the plan to be rejected, and a car park, regrettably, now stands on the site. An inveterate gambler and racehorse owner he was reputed to spend around £1 million a year on horse racing. Later, he became a Liberal Member of Parliament, had the distinction of being Manchester's biggest taxpayer and when he died, in 1979 left a (then) fortune of nearly £6 million."

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And finally, back on The Bourne Ultimatum... Does this, in any way, explain the cluster of 4 orientation zones ("MDStyle Orientation") that appear to be replicas of an adjacent sim: Project Blackbriar. If this seems like gibberish, then you probably haven't seen the movie. Just curious, since I am unable to access any of the 5 sims in question - even though the map shows them to be in use.

1 comment:

Nock Forager said...

Hi! blackbriar and MDStyle Orientation are copy of former form of "Meltingdots" SIM. Meltingdots SIM is for Japanese newbie zone. It seems 4 of MDStyles are already in use. hm, interesting...